Fact check: Testosterone doesn’t only belong to men, True or False?
The answer is true, as there are actually small amounts of testosterone in women too! Our ovaries and adrenal glands produce the T (testosterone) hormone, although in vastly smaller amounts compared to men.
Combined with estrogen, testosterone is an amazing hormone that can give us many benefits! It plays an important role in our reproductive health and sexual well-being. It enhances our fertility and sex drive. It can also repair and keep our reproductive tissues in great shape. Additionally, it helps in improving our muscles, bones and brain functions. But when testosterone in women is out of balance, expect the unexpected – a string of major symptoms.
What happens when testosterone in women goes out of control?
Since our ovaries are responsible for producing testosterone, as we enter midlife, our ovaries can no longer make testosterone as much as it used to do. Common symptoms of low levels of testosterone in women include:
- Low libido and sexual satisfaction
- Decrease in energy levels
- Mood changes
- Increased risk of osteoporosis, as low testosterone levels reduce bone strength and mass.
- Increase in body fat, because testosterone helps build muscles and a lack of it may cause weight gain.
On the other hand, too much testosterone in women can leave obvious effects on our physical appearance, including:
- Excess body hair and facial hair, especially on the chin and upper lip
- Thinning hair, especially around the hairline
- Acne and oily skin
- Enlarged clitoris
- Decreased breast size
- Deepening of the voice or hoarseness
- Increased muscle mass
- Changes in body shape
3 ways to keep testosterone levels in women at bay
As we age and reach menopause, our testosterone levels decrease naturally. However, there are also other causes that can lower our T levels, such as problems with our ovaries and adrenal glands. For example, our T levels drop if our ovaries are removed or the adrenal glands don’t function properly.
The good news is, there are ways to maintain healthy levels of testosterone in women. It all boils down to choosing the right kinds of food, changing your lifestyle and supplementing with the right vitamins and minerals.
Here are the best foods to regulate levels of testosterone in women naturally:
- Oysters, crabs, lobsters and other shellfish
- Tuna, salmon and sardines
- Beans (white, kidney or black), peas and lentils
- Eggs (especially the yolk)
- Organic, grass-fed beef (chuck roast, or ground beef and liver), lamb and pork
- Garlic and onions
- Pomegranate, avocado and grapefruit
- Seeds (flax and chia) and healthy nuts (walnuts, almonds)
- Olive oil
- Broccoli, cauliflower, Brussels sprouts, cabbage, turnips, radish
- Berries (blueberry, acai berry, raspberry and more)
- Dark chocolate
Food and Testosterone
You might be wondering why these foods are effective in balancing testosterone. Well, aside from the fact that most of them are superfoods, they have the following components and nutrients:
Essential fatty acids and omega-3 – The body needs cholesterol to produce testosterone and the ideal way to get this is through your essential fatty acids. On the other hand, omega-3 is known for its balancing effects to hormones.
Protein – Amino acids are essential in the production of testosterone. The best sources of amino acids are protein rich foods.
Indoles – These compounds help balance hormones (like estrogen and progesterone) which can affect testosterone production. Some studies have shown that it also helps in reducing bad estrogen, which in turn, balances T-levels in the body.
Eating a variety of healthy foods is the key to balancing our T-hormone levels. However, there are times when we need to fill in the missing nutrients in our diet through supplements. Here are some supplements that can help maintain testosterone in women well-balanced.
The combination of these minerals helps in the regulation of testosterone production and supporting hormone function.
You can also supplement with herbs like Maca, Ashwagandha, Black Cohosh, Rhodiola, St. John’s Wort and Ginseng. These are adaptogens that actually work with the brain to balance sex hormones, not only testosterone, but also estrogen and progesterone.
Another herb that is very effective in boosting testosterone production is Tongkat Ali. This herb comes from Malaysia and is considered an aphrodisiac and a treatment for sexual dysfunction. In women, it increases libido. Aside from this, the herb improves energy levels, endurance and stamina and reduces mental fatigue.
Damiana is one of the best herbs to fix low testosterone in women. It has two active and naturally occurring compounds that prevent T-levels from dropping too low: Pinocembrin and Acacetin. In addition to this great benefit, damiana also has antioxidant, anti-cancer and anti-inflammatory properties!
DHEA or Dehydroepiandrosterone is a hormone that our body naturally produces. It functions to create other male hormones such as testosterone as well as female hormones.
Back in the days, products containing DHEA were banned. But it was approved by the FDA back in 2016.
As we age, our DHEA levels go down. But fortunately, there are now supplements available in the market.
DHEA includes many benefits such as prevention of bone loss, increased muscle mass, more energy and reduction of fat. Some have even reported better sex drive and a more lubricated genital area.
Moreover, these vitamins, minerals and herbs are known to relieve menopause symptoms. So, by including them into your diet, you’re hitting two birds with one stone!
Try each supplement for a couple of weeks and observe how you feel. Take note of any side effects or reactions and stick with the one your body is in harmony with.
The imbalances in our T-levels can also be improved by incorporating healthy habits in our daily activities. Let me share some simple lifestyle changes to get your T-levels back on track.
- Minimize alcohol consumption and avoid smoking. Alcohol and nicotine disturb the natural cycle of hormones in the body.
- Avoid sugar as much as possible! High blood sugar can suppress estrogen production. A decrease in estrogen means that the body will overcompensate by converting more testosterone to estrogen. As a result, your T-levels will decline.
- Choose organic goods for your meals and snacks. Chemicals on your food are not good for testosterone production.
- Bask in the sun for better vitamin D production!
- Follow high intensity exercises (HIIT) . The more physically demanding the exercise is, the better for your T-levels!
- Avoid plastic containers containing harmful disruptors that can mess the balance of testosterone.
- Avoid trans-fats, or those products that contain “partially hydrogenated” vegetable oil. They can mess up hormone production.
- Practice yoga and meditation to boost your T-levels naturally!
Aside from all these things mentioned, one of the best ways to balance testosterone is to have sex regularly. Having sex once a week is recommended to maintain the levels of testosterone in women. Studies have shown that your T-levels begin to fall after one week of not having sex. Another great reason to keep your sex life alive!
Dr. Berg suggests avoiding three specific things to boost low testosterone levels! Watch the video here [6:39]:
Testosterone therapy is used by some women to restore the natural balance of testosterone. This method, however, is not FDA-approved. Therefore, the safety of this therapy is also unknown. For this reason, there are doctors who do not recommend the therapy. In rare cases where it is prescribed, only women who have sufficient estrogen levels are able to pass.
Doctors say that you can receive testosterone therapy if you have:
- reduced sex drive
- depression and fatigue after surgically induced menopause
- estrogen therapy did not work in the relief of severe menopause symptoms
There are studies that link testosterone therapy to an increased risk in breast cancer and heart disease. However, further scientific studies have to be performed for clear evidence.
The therapy is usually started with low doses of testosterone, as your doctor monitors how your body will react. The effect of this therapy is different from woman to woman. Testosterone therapy is administered in different methods:
- Patch – to be changed every 24 hours
- Injectables – given on a weekly or as-needed-basis by your doctor. Since it has a systemic effect, it can result to hormone imbalance.
Most healthcare practitioners recommend the use of testosterone therapy through local administration, because it reduces the risk of side effects. Aside from this, it’s easier to stop in case there are severe body reactions.
But there are other ways to introduce testosterone such as in gel or cream form. But these creams are formulated for men and can be too strong for female use.
Since there is no FDA-approved testosterone product for women, some women tend to have their own testosterone creams or gels formulated by compounding pharmacies. If not, others use products created for men and try to reduce the dosage themselves which still risks getting it in excess.
A research in Australia found out that using a testosterone cream in standard 1% with 5mg and 10mg dosages had shown effects. The 5mg dose normalized testosterone levels within premenopausal range, while the 10mg dose elevated testosterone levels above the range.
Dr. John Gray, the genius behind the best-selling book Men Are from Mars, Women Are from Venus (a really great book about how men and women’s brains work), suggests that it´s wiser to allow the body to regulate its testosterone levels amounts on its own than taking synthetic testosterone.
He advises that going the natural route such as taking supplements, diet and exercise is better because it naturally boosts testosterone levels.
Like what you read? Share your experience with testosterone deficiency or overload in the comments below. And hey, your friends and family might want to read all about testosterone, too!